Laura Moretti publishes "In the House of the Muses", December 2020
Mario Bevilacqua was one of the greatest Veronese collectors of the second half of the Cinquecento. He was a true lover of literature and the arts, expressing a deep appreciation for music and an instinctive attraction to antiquities. In the family palace on today’s Corso Cavour, renovated in the mid-sixteenth century by the architect Michele Sanmicheli, Bevilacqua founded what early sources describe as a “museum” open to the public and distributed in multiple rooms. Here it was possible to admire paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, coins and medals, manuscripts, printed books, and musical instruments. The library was considered one of the richest in the city, while the “galleria” contained masterpieces such as Tintoretto’s Paradise, now at the Musée du Louvre, along with antique statues and busts of Roman emperors. The famous “ridotto,” in which salaried musicians and singers performed regularly, was frequented by citizens and foreigners and enjoyed international renown.
Drawing on archival and iconographic evidence, literary and musical manuscripts and publications, eyewitness reports, and bits of official and personal correspondence, plus surviving objects from Bevilacqua’s collection, this book reconstructs a cross section of the activities that took place in the rooms of Palazzo Bevilacqua with the aim of shedding light on the life, relationships, and aspirations of a preeminent figure in the world of Italian collecting and artistic patronage in the final quarter of the sixteenth century.